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Introduction My name is Elise Weavers and am currently a 3rd year Architecture student at the University of Melbourne. Design Studio Air will be my 6th design studio and my 3rd studio that will make use of the design program Rhino. Before Air I have complete Virtual Environments, 2nd semester, 1st year and taken the Rhino workshop that was made available in Visual Communications, 1st semester 2nd year. However, I would describe my Rhino skills as still quite basic and this design studio will be my first introduction of the Grasshopper software. Although I have found working with Rhino quite challenging to say the least, I found Virtual Environments to be one of the most rewarding subjects, in terms of learning and satisfaction with my work, in the course to date. I look forward to another challenging semester of Rhino that hopefully will see my skills improve and result in an equally suprising and satisfying outcome as I found with Virtual.


Architecture as a Discourse Richard Williams’ ‘Architecture and Visual Culture’ (2005) introduces what I believe to be a very interesting discussion about the societal implications and power Architecture has to shape and influence the public realm, as Architecture is often viewed as an exclusive field in which an in depth understanding and formal training are compulsory prerequisites which without, do not qualify one to participate. The field is so exclusive that Just as other social cliques it is not uncommon to come across double standards. Take the point raised by Williams; not all buildings can be considered architecture, however not all architecture must a building. Williams (2005) discusses what he defines as ‘three related, but distinct, approaches to architecture: architecture as a form of art; architecture as a symbolic realm; and architecture as spatial experience. The main conclusion of the article as reinforced by Stanislav in the lecture; ‘Architecture ought to be seen as a discourse. Buildings as materials are a small part of the overall field of architecture, a field which is better regarded as a network of practices and debates about the built environment.’ (Williams, R., 2005).

Figure 1. De Stijl Cover, September, 1921. Source: Willis, J., 2013

‘An immense amount of spectacular new architecture has been built in the past two decades, a product of the desire on the part of social and political authority to update the public realm in the context of unprecedented prosperity.’ (Williams, R., 2005) This new architecture, with relatively unseen or imagined forms and structures, sometimes described as “blobs”. This is discussed in Lynn’s ‘Blob Tectonics, or why Tectonics is square and Topology is Groovy’ (1998) challenges the preconceived idea a building, like a human must stand upwards and discusses that understanding these new forms requires a ‘reconsideration of identity as neither reducing toward primitives nor emerging toward wholes’. In other words, from what I understand, a completely new way of thinking about architecture cannot be related back to a pre-existing theory. This brings me to my precedents of discussion that I believe, although approximately 100 years old, are existing examples of what Williams and Lynn discuss- the coming of new ideas and developments in architecture. These precedent make example of the influence and importance architecture, as a discourse rather than a built form, can have on the understanding or imagining of what architecture might be and the social impact this can have. I believe the De Stijl movement is a prime example of the successful and influential reimagining of architecture through a discourse predominantly in the unbuilt form. I would particularly like to focus on the De Stijl journal published by the Dutch painter, designer, writer, and critic Theo van Doesburg. (figure 1.)


The group’s principal members were the painters Piet Mondrian, Vilmos Huszár, and Bart van der Leck, and the architects Gerrit Rietveld, Robert van ‘t Hoff, and J.J.P. Oud. (Wilis, J., Dutch Opposites: de Stijl and the Phantasts, 2013). Van Doesburg was heavily influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright’s philosophy on organic architecture and used this as the basis for the works produced in this era. During this time Doesburg and his associates took to analysing and reimagining; of space and movement. Some of the most influential examples of this analyisis are the artworks. For example Modrian’s Pier and Ocean. (figure 2). A bird’s eye view of the movements of the ocean into horizontal and vertical lines. This analysis being refined and represented as horizontal and vertical forms was a key development and motif of the reimagining of architecture done by De Stijl members. This work was abstract and unlike any of the architecture that preceded it. It is important to note this movement occurred during the period of world war one, which heavily reduced architect’s and client’s capacity to build, leaving a lot of the innovation and experimentation of De Stijl un-built (Wilis, J., Dutch Opposites: de Stijl and the Phantasts, 2013). As discussed in the lecture a new level of creativity can be reached when the preconceived ideas and constraints of what a built object or building should be are lifted from the design process. The abstract imagining and analyisis of shape, form and composition unlike anything seen before is a strong example of the power designing in this way can have on creativity and the buildings that were actually built were direct developments of the thought processes and artworks that preceded them. (figure 5.)

Figure 3. Schroder house, Utretch, 1924. Gerrit Rietveld Source: Willis, J., 2013

Figure 2. Pier and Ocean, Piet Mondrian, 1914 Source: Willis, J., 2013

Designs saw buildings with no gravitational anchorage- no defined top or bottom, visual clues as to what something was (ie. The entrance) were removed. For example Gerrit Rietveld Schroeder House, Utrecht, 1924. (figure 3). Another important development that occurred during the De Stijl movement, and my second precedent, was a new form of architectural representation. This new form being Axonometric drawings to represent forms in the 3D. (figure 4) Popularity in axonometric representation grew after Doesburg published his drawing illustrating his ideas on fundamental building planes (Wilis, J., Dutch Opposites: de Stijl and the Phantasts, 2013). The way in which something is represented can be very influential on the way we understand something, the way we envisage something and the way in which we conceptualize what some thing can be. The growing popularity of using axonometric representation could be seen, subtly perhaps, as the changing discourse and ideas of architecture during this period of experimentation. I believe this is a relevant precedent to discuss from the perspective of what we may learn in this course. For many of the students parametric design may be something relatively new to us. Using this new tool and knowledge we gain throughout the semester learning how to use rhino and grasshopper, will bring with it a new understanding and perception of what design and creativity is and how it may be represented or created through 3D modeling and parametric design.

Figure 4. Above. Theo van Doesburg, Architectural Analysis. Figure 5. Below. Theo van Doesburg and Cornelius van Eersteren, House Design, 1923. Source: Willis, J., 2013


02: Introduction Architecture

The use of computers has been seen in the architecture industry for quite a while, however, until recently computers in architecture were mainly used to digitise existing procedures, such as virtual drafting. Innovative thinkers such as Brady Peters and Xavier de Kestelier of the Specialist Modelling Group (SMG) have been at the forefront of developing the way in which computers are used within the industry. The pair have been very influential figures in the architectural industry shift from ‘computerisation’ ( digitizing existing procedures) to ‘computation’. Computation is the utilization of the computer aided design to explore and innovate creative design potentials by combining the ability of computers where ours fall short and use our abilities where computers fall short.- Computers will contribute rational and search abilities while we contribute the creativity and intuition needed to solve design problems (Yehuda E. Kalay, Architecture’s New Media : Principles, Theories, and Methods of Computer-Aided Design (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004). Computation not only allows us as designers to extend our abilities to deal with highly complex situations is also provides us with the opportunity to go beyond out own intellectual capabilities and provide inspiration through generating unexpected results in the design process.

to Computational

Foster + Partners, Khan Shatyr Entertainment Centre, Astana, Kazakhstan, 2010: Computational design was used to make many itterations of the potential form of the cable-net structure.


The use of computerization in the architecture industry is redefining the definition of an architect. Architects using computation are now also become programmers. A designer can customize design environments by writing programs using visual programming language (rhino and grasshopper). Creating and Modifying the code to explore new options and speculating further design potentials. Computation not only works but has become necessary to build the largest projects in the world. Given the complexities of form and the compressed timescales of construction today, groups such as SMG have become essential aspects on the construction of many projects (Peters, B., & de Kestelier, Computation works: the building of algorithmic thought, 2013) Computation is closing the gap between the architects designing simply the form and aesthetics of a building and the separate manufacturing/structural design process. These tasks can now be done almost simultaneously through the use of computation. This drastically reduces the amount of time between initial design and the beginning of construction, making the entire process far more efficient. As David Davis spoke about in the lecture, it also gives the designer much greater control over design changes for a far longer period of time in the development of the project and also reduces the impact these changes will have on the project until a later stage, making them much less costly than if a similar change were to be made if the project was being developed in a more traditional way. For example the Fabpod project David showed in the lecture which was still being designed up to 4 days before construction commenced. (Davis, D., Studio Air Lecture 3: Parametric Modeling, 2013). Or Foster and Partner’s Bejiing International Airport, one of the worlds largest buildings that was designed and built in 5 years. Without the utilization of computation neither of these projects could have been achieved in the time frame they were designed and built in.


As mentioned above computation has the potential to provide inspiration and go beyond the intellect of the designer and increases their capability to solve complex problems. It is programs such a Rhino and Grasshopper that multiple iterations of a geometric form to be generated, analysed and evaluated efficiently. Small changes are updated in a visual 3D model instantly where as if a small change were to be made in a design that was being drawn by hand or even using computation, it may take hours for the update to be redrawn. Also the use of experimentation through computation can lead to the discovery of unpredicted results that may not have been the designer’s intentions at all, but could provide a design solution that may never have been considered or imagined by the designer. Design can be an open-ended search for new possibilities, not only problem solving. As discussed in Woodbury’s ‘Whither design space” (Woodbury, Robert F. and Andrew L. Burrow (2006). ‘Whither design space?’, Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing, 20 , 2, pp. 63-82) Discovering new possibilities and problem solving is aided by computation. Computer support has the potential to provide rapid access to both a breadth of alternatives and depth of exploration. When looking at design possibilities cognitively, one is normally sacrificed for the other. Usually many options are looked at briefly or only one option is looked at in detail. Computation bridges this gap.

Foster + Partners, Beijing International Airport, Beijing, 2008, in Computation works: the building of algorithmic thought, 2013


For many problems including some phases of the architectural design process, knowledge of how to achieve a solution cannot exist prior to the search itself, since the sought-after solution is unique, and the process of finding it is characterised by missing information and uncertainty. (Yehuda E. Kalay, Architecture’s New Media : Principles, Theories, and Methods of Computer-Aided Design (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004). Computation provides an efficient means of exploration to develop or find this information. In summary, computation has become an integral part of modern design solutions. Computation provides an extremely efficient way of exploring many variations of a design or solution and can be a source of inspiration itself, through the discovery of unexpected results. Computation is bridging the gap between the design and construction process of a project and drastically increasing the efficiency and control we have as designers over the project form start to finish.



Elise Weavers design studio